One Man, One Message: If Barack Obama Is to Save His Presidency, He Must Speak Up and Persuade Americans That His Policies Are Designed to Make the Market Work for Them

By Cassidy, John | New Statesman (1996), December 7, 2009 | Go to article overview

One Man, One Message: If Barack Obama Is to Save His Presidency, He Must Speak Up and Persuade Americans That His Policies Are Designed to Make the Market Work for Them


Cassidy, John, New Statesman (1996)


The debt blow-up in Dubai, coming as Barack Obama and his colleagues in the White House were preparing to gobble down their Thanksgiving turkeys, provided another untimely reminder that the global financial crisis has not yet been consigned to history. Despite a resumption of economic growth, unemployment in the US is hovering above 10 per cent, and the administration is facing calls for a second stimulus package to boost job creation. Meanwhile, other elements of the president's domestic agenda, including health reform - on which Obama has staked much - a shake-up of financial regulation and proposals to tackle global warming, are mired in Congress.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

According to the latest Gallup poll, the Republicans have taken a handy lead over the Democrats, and the president's personal approval rating has fallen below 50 per cent. Of recent Oval Office occupants, only Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton have had their popularity sink so rapidly. Barely a year after his historic election triumph, it is too early to write off Obama as a one-term president. Clinton's early setbacks were much more serious, and he bounced back. But the former Illinois senator faces a dangerous pincer movement: Conservative Republicans accuse him of covertly promoting "socialism" and liberal Democrats charge him with temporising and lacking a coherent philosophy. Vocal defenders of Obama's policies are thin on the ground. If the US economy enters a "double dip" recession, or even if it continues to expand modestly, but not rapidly enough to reduce unemployment, next year's midterm elections could well prove disastrous for the White House.

Inheriting an economy that was in virtual free fall, Obama was always going to face big challenges, but by failing to provide a coherent narrative for his presidency he has not helped himself. Contrary to what the critics say, his domestic agenda does reflect a consistent and far-reaching world-view - not socialism, but a moderate reformism based on the proposition that free markets sometimes fail, and that governments can fix them by employing taxes, subsidies, regulations and other policy tools. Although they haven't impressed the left, the White House's policy proposals amount to the most significant effort on the part of a Democratic president to shift the United States in a progressive direction since the 1960s.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

But rather than spelling out its reformist philosophy and seeking to elevate the policy debate into a broad discussion about where free-market economics reaches its limits, the White House is fighting each policy battle individually - presenting one set of arguments for health-care reform, another for financial regulation, and a third for the stimulus package. At times, Obama sounds like a populist critic of Wall Street and the health-care industry; at others, he resorts to bromides about the power and creativity of private enterprise. Often, this cognitive dissonance is evident in the same speech. Speaking in downtown Manhattan in September, he declared: "We will not go back to the days of reckless behaviour and unchecked excess ... at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses." A few minutes later, he added: "I have always been a strong believer in the power of the free market. I believe that jobs are best created not by government, but by businesses and entrepreneurs willing to take a risk on a good idea ... For we know that it is the dynamism of our people that has been the source of America's progress and prosperity."

Market failure

These statements are not necessarily contradictory, but the only way to render them consistent is to get into detailed arguments about why certain markets malfunction and others do not. In short, it is necessary to embrace publicly the economics of market failure, which is hardly a new concept. More than 200 years ago, Adam Smith warned about the dangers of unregulated banks and recommended strict financial regulation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

One Man, One Message: If Barack Obama Is to Save His Presidency, He Must Speak Up and Persuade Americans That His Policies Are Designed to Make the Market Work for Them
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.